Am I looking forward to being a grandmother? Yes! Insha Allah I will become one, one that will be the support, the cushion for the future generation – my grandchildren – and in turn they will be the drivers with whom I will revisit my youth.
I imagine having a grandchild is like a breath of fresh air. When you look down at the bundle of joy, you can’t help but smile and think about bringing up this little person with the right iman and correct Islamic upbringing.
In my mother’s case, she is a grandmother to not one, but six grandchildren. My older sister has six children, Alhamdulillah. My older brother is due to be married, and Insha Allah, he will be adding to the grandchildren clan. I also have two brothers and a sister younger than me, none of whom are married. My mother loves her grandchildren but if I were to ask her which one is her favourite, she will not be able to name one; she loves them all equally for their different qualities. From the eldest who is 21 years old to the youngest who is 9, she is there to guard them and support them always; to ignore their mistakes and to guide them. And despite the language barriers, they are there to keep her occupied. Amidst all the times spent on Xbox games and playing, they can never say no to Nanu, nor to her cooking.
Being at an age where you are unaccustomed to people leaving you is difficult and heartbreaking, especially when that person is your husband of 40 years – it’s almost impossible to spring back. This was my mother’s situation when she was left a widow a few years ago. The departure of my father left a vacant, hollow feeling in the house and in my mother’s life. So when her 19 year old grandson moved in, she was over the moon with joy. It was a distraction and a welcome invasion. She would cook his favourite things, wake him up for university and fajr prayers and even wash his clothes. She stayed up until he returned home from night shifts. She actually did more than what she would do for her own children.
He in turn would respect everything she said and adhere to her every request, again more than what her children would do. All her grandchildren would confide in her about things they would not tell their parents. She was like their older and wiser sister.
When he left two months ago, I could understand the look of pain and sorrow in her eyes as she wept. For the last memory my mother had before my nephew arrived was my father ceasing to be part of our lives. My nephew’s departure took with him the very twinkle in her eye.
My nephew cried too. He was leaving home! Yes, he would be visiting but it would not be the same. Not to my mother. She had lost her younger brother – this is how she saw my nephew. Now the only time he would come would be as a short term guest.
Now my mother eagerly awaits the marriage of my brother so that his children will be with her and make her feel young and look forward to waking up every morning. But she will have favourites then even though she disputes this. It’s something that cannot be helped and my mother knows it too.
I sometimes feel envious of my nephews and nieces. Having not met any of my grandparents, I feel I have missed out greatly – there is a huge void that cannot be filled. I will not experience the warmth of a grandmother as my nieces and nephews have. Their relationship is something that I admire – a confidante, a friend, a sister!
It is true that everything is a gift from Allah (SWT) and I pray every day that my children will be able to see their grandmother. For that one moment of a grandma’s warmth and love is a lifetime’s worth of treasure.
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Asma Begum is a paralegal and writer, based in London.